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Fundraising underway for family of beloved hockey coach who died after St. Paul assault

Twin Cities Pioneer Press logo Twin Cities Pioneer Press 4/20/2021 Mara H. Gottfried
a man smiling for the camera: Mike Ryan, head coach of the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars girls hockey team, died on Sunday, April 18, 2021, after he was assaulted in St. Paul. (Courtesy of Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars) © Provided by Twin Cities Pioneer Press Mike Ryan, head coach of the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars girls hockey team, died on Sunday, April 18, 2021, after he was assaulted in St. Paul. (Courtesy of Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars)

Mike Ryan was known as a hockey coach and he loved the sport, though the biggest parts of his life were his family, friends and faith.

Now, people in the Bloomington community, where Ryan was a lifelong resident, are rallying around his wife and two teenage daughters. The 48-year-old died after being assaulted in St. Paul over the weekend.

A GoFundMe for his family raised more than $65,000 within eight hours of being established Tuesday.

“He touched so many lives” in the hockey community, his church and Ramalynn Academy in Bloomington, where his wife is a teacher, said Krishna Ramalingam.

He met Ryan when they were in fifth grade and they’ve been like brothers — Ryan was the best man in his wedding, and Ramalingam and his wife introduced Ryan to Julie, who he married. Mike and Julie’s daughters are now in eighth and 10th grade.

Ryan graduated from Bloomington’s Jefferson High School in 1991 and went on to play hockey at Gustavus Adolphus College. He was Jefferson’s girls’ varsity hockey coach for the last five years.

The Minnesota Wild wrote on Twitter Tuesday that they were sending their thoughts and prayers to Ryan’s family and friends, adding, “He will be greatly missed by so many here in the State of Hockey.” Ryan’s team asked people to leave hockey sticks on their front steps Tuesday night in Ryan’s memory.

MAN CHARGED RELEASED ON BOND

The Ramsey County attorney’s office charged Ryan John Whisler, 43, of St. Paul, on Monday with second-degree unintentional murder in the death of Mike Ryan, 48.

Whisler was at a Wild game before going to Herbie’s on the Park near Rice Park on Saturday night. Ramalingam said he believes Ryan also attended the game.

Ryan and Whisler, who didn’t know each other, happened to go to the restroom at the restaurant at the same time. Some urinals were covered with cellophane for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whisler punched a hole in the cellophane and took a cell phone video of himself urinating at the covered urinal,” according to the criminal complaint, which went on to say Ryan “called Whisler out for his behavior … as they were leaving the bar which led to a verbal confrontation.”

Outside the restaurant, Whisler punched Ryan, which led him to fall down a flight of nine concrete stairs and hit his head, according to the complaint. Ryan was taken off life support Sunday and died of a brain injury.

Ramalingam said he doesn’t know what happened Saturday night, but he said from a young age Ryan always took “a stand for whatever was right.”

Whisler made his first court appearance on Tuesday, where bail was set at $300,000. He posted bond and was released from jail. His attorney said Monday it was too early for him to comment.

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